1983 UIM World Championship
Renault is World Champion
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1983 UIM World Championship
E. Milner Irvin III piloted the Miss Renault to its first win ever in the UIM World Championship held this year in Houston, Texas. In addition to being Team Renault's first victory, it was the first victory for Irvin as a driver since starting in the unlimiteds in 1974.
What once seemed to be an insurmountable lead, the 769 point advantage the Miss Budweiser held over the Atlas Van Lines was whittled down to nothing as the Atlas Van Lines overtook the Budweiser to win the National Championship for the second straight year.
The race was billed as a true World Championship as boats from around the world gathered in Houston to compete. Renato Molinari brought his team over from Italy to compete. Louie's on the Lake picked up the sponsorship and this OPC hull was in the race. Miss Bayswater Bulk came up from down under, but was not as successful as the Italian team. Another notable team was Miss USA Racing. The former Aronow Unlimited was outfitted with four outboards and had OPC veteran Jimbo McConnell at the helm.
Eighteen boats in all qualified for this event, the largest field in several years. The six fastest qualifiers, the Atlas, Budweiser, Renault, Squire, American Speedy, and Rich Plan drew a bye on Saturday's competition and waited for heat 1A. The next twelve qualifiers went at it in race format to determine the slow flight for Sunday's race. The survivors were the U-80 Chet’s Music, the Executone, Miss USA Racing, Louie’s on the Lake, Miss Tosti Asti, and the RIC Gunite Special.
Heat 1A saw the Miss Budweiser regain domination over the Atlas as Jim Kropfeld turned a flawless, world record performance at 125.568 for the heat. Atlas was not far behind though at 123 even. The Renault was third followed by the Squire and the American Speedy Printing. Rich Plan did not finish.
The U-80 driven by Ron Armstrong picked up where he left off in his domination of the slower section scoring an easy win in heat 1B. The two tunnel boats came within a whisker of each other with Louie’s On The Lake nipping Miss USA Racing 101.790 to 101.749. The Tosti Asti and the Executone brought up the field.
The Budweiser looked to 2A to possibly wrap up the National Championship, but it was not to be. In fact the championship was lost in 2A as the Bud fell victim to mechanical woes. The Atlas cruised to an easy victory followed by the Renault, Squire, American Speedy, and the Rich Plan.
Chet’s Music took 2B with a 110.316 time. Executone was second, followed by USA Racing, Louie’s on the Lake, the Tosti Asti and the RIC Gunite again failed to finish.
The American Speedy Printing used the consolation route to the final scoring a 110.002 victory. As it turned out however, most of the competing boats got a shot at the final.
In the first go-round of the final the classic confrontation was there. The Atlas vs. the Budweiser for the National and World Championships. This time it was the Atlas to fall victim to a hole in its sponson. It looked like an easy day for the Budweiser camp. However, with less than a lap to go, Atlas driver Chip Hanauer, in a questionable move, went over the side to stop the race.
The rerun looked easy for the Budweiser contingent. With little competition left, a finish would almost spell National Championship. But it was not to be. After smoking away to an easy lead after one lap, the Bud's supercharger let go at the start of the second go-round. It wasn't surprising who inherited the lead. American Speedy Printing as it had all season was there to take over after the big boys faltered. But this time American Speedy also fell victim to mechanical problems. That left the lead and the race to Miss Renault.
It may not have been the way Milner wanted to win but it was an important victory for the Renault team nonetheless.
This race brings to a close the 1983 season. The biggest surprise of the season was that five different boats captured races.
(Reprinted from the Unlimited NewsJournal, October 1983)